Monday, April 2, 2012

Keeping Exercise Rewarding and Fun

There are several reasons why people stop their exercise routines. Two of the more common reasons are boredom and no longer seeing results.  I have managed to avoid these issues, during the six years that I have been habitually exercising, by incorporating one simple thing, exercise variety.  At first it was unintentional, as I was new to exercising and just wanted to try a lot of different things.  Now, I make a conscious effort to keep my exercises varied because I believe it has so much to do with what has kept me active and kept my weight off.

I have told you in previous posts that a lot of what I have learned over the years has been through observing others.  I have talked to so many people who are frustrated because they work out 5, 6, or even 7 days per week and see no results.  In inquiring further, what I usually find is that they do pretty much the same exercises day after day, week after week.  What is happening is that their bodies have become more efficient in performing the exercises, and therefore need to burn less calories to perform the task.  This may explain why the woman that you see everyday on the same elliptical machine, for the same length of time, going the same speed (and probably reading the same magazine) never seems to lose any weight.  

This scenario on the elliptical machine brings me to the second problem people confront with their exercise routines, boredom.  If we ate the exact same meal for dinner 7 nights a week, or watched the same movie every week, we would get bored.  The same goes for exercise.  The more variety in your exercise routine, the more likely you are to enjoy it and the more likely you are to keep it up.

The good news for those of you who have reached exercise boredom or a weight loss plateau (or both), is that there are tons of exercises that you can add to your routine and plenty of ways to mix up your current routine.  The simplest way for the woman on the elliptical to boost her calorie expenditure would be to add some sprint intervals (pushing hard for thirty seconds and then recovering for 30 seconds) or some hill climbs.  Another option would be to take a few days off of the elliptical machine all together and join a strength training class or go for a hike.

I exercise an average of 6-7 days per week.  It is such a habit for me now that I get pretty cranky if I don’t exercise (my husband can vouch for the truth in this statement).  I do about four different types of exercises per week (cycling classes, running, strength training...), and I change which exercises those are every 3-4 months.  There is no exact schedule that I follow, I just listen to my body and change things up when my routine feels like it is getting easy (or boring).  That last part is key, I cannot stress how important it is for us to keep pushing ourselves.  If I had just stayed with whatever exercises felt comfortable, I can guarantee I would not be where I am today.

Here are some of the exercises I enjoyed when I was first starting to exercise:

Walking, gradual hikes, tennis, short runs, free weight training, step aerobics, core conditioning classes, water aerobics, yoga

In the beginning I did a LOT of walking.  I was living in a small town at the time, and I walked pretty much everywhere I needed to go.  I also took up hiking.  I would go on gradual 5-7 mile hikes with my girlfriends several days a week.  I did yoga at the gym, and also worked out on the elliptical for 30-40 minute intervals.  I dabbled in free weights, but they scared me.  Eventually, once I got up the courage, I started running.

Here are some new exercise activities I have discovered over the years:

Cycling classes, long distance running, bootcamp classes, pilates, personal training, running stairs, biking, snowshoeing, kickboxing, plyometrics, strength training classes

Currently, a typical week for me could look like this:

Sunday:  Cycling class with hill climbs (60 min) + abs (15 min)
Monday: Pilates (60 min)
Tuesday: Cardio kickboxing (60 min)
Wednesday: Strength training class (60 min)
Thurs:  Cycling class with sprints (60 min) + abs (15 min)
Friday:  Strength training class (60 min) or a run (7 miles)
Saturday: Variable (day off, cycling class, outdoor exercise, yoga)

Hopefully this will inspire you to shake things up a little bit in your routine.  Adding variety to your exercise routine will not only make it more fun and rewarding, it will help prevent overtraining and increase your overall fitness!


  1. Great post! I remember hitting that exercise boredom wall which caused me to shake things up! Like you said, the key thing is to do something that keeps the weight off! It's been 6 years for me too!

    1. Congrats on maintaining your weight loss! It takes a powerful individual to be able to keep off the pounds. It sounds like you have learned all of the tricks :). Keep working hard and motivating others to do the same!

  2. Your blog is so inspiring and its definitely helped me in my weight loss journey!! I'm close to my goal now can't wait!! Keep writing and thanks for sharing your ideas!!

    1. Thank you Shameen! I am so glad to hear that you are close to your goal weight. Doesn't it feel amazing! Let me know if there is anything else I can do to help.